What is your ideal way to spend time with God in His Word?
My vision for the perfect time with Him almost never happens. After years of attempting to develop some level of seemingly unattainable consistency, I stopped waiting for that season of life to arrive, and instead, try to embrace the less-than-ideal. Make the most of it.
My chair sits by the window. A small table beside me has a cup of tea or a glass of infused water on ice. My basket full of pens and highlighters and sticky notes and notebooks and Bibles is ready for use. The house is perfectly quiet and still. Maybe the sun is shining, casting a warm glow over my favorite space. Or maybe it’s raining lightly outside and the drops gently tap the window and stream down in perfect Instagram-worthy streaks. It’s the first thing in the morning and my heart and mind are fresh and eager to dig into God’s Word. Worship music softly sets the tone and one-by-one, I cast all my burdens on the Lord in prayer.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
The reality is: that’s just not what happens
Before I got married, I was the master of my moments and actually managed to have “the perfect quiet time” on a relatively consistent basis.
After I got married, I had more responsibilities, a husband who delighted in morning coffee together, a job, and a home to take care of.
Then babies came along. Time in God’s Word and focused prayer nearly vanished.
Eventually, I learned that perfectionism is the root of my prayerlessness and lack of Bible reading. If I couldn’t do it the way I wanted to, when I wanted to, I just didn’t do it at all.
But I need it and crave it. I want to know Jesus more. The nourishment His Word provides is a necessity. My heart longs for wisdom and guidance and counsel from the One Who Knows All Things.
My spirit was starving.
Thus began a lifelong experiment, a continual effort to spend time with Jesus daily… no matter what it looks like.
I’ve used numerous methods simply to discipline myself to take/make the time:
- Accountability partners
- one close friend to check up on me a few times a week
- a group of women meeting once a week and sharing what we’ve gleaned from our time in God’s Word
- an email accountability group whereby we all sent an email every day to share about our personal Bible reading
- Bible Study groups: Participating in a Bible Study that involves “homework” each week can be very motivating for a list-checker like myself. It’s an appointment on the calendar with required work throughout the week.
- A type of personal reward system
- Preparing something the night before to motivate me early in the morning (e.g. a cinnamon bun breakfast or simply setting up “the perfect space” with a favorite scented candle)
- A calendar or chart that I could check off each time I successfully “had my quiet time” (the reward being a sheet of checkmarks or colored boxes indicating how successful I am)
In different seasons of life, particularly in the kids’ younger years, I implemented various schedules to allow for my “ideal” quiet time:
- Mandatory one-hour naps for the kids (quiet time in their rooms if they were too old to nap)
- Corporate “quiet time” devotions during our homeschooling years
- Getting up at the crack of dawn in the hopes of having quiet time before our household awakened (I tried this for far too long. Due to some health issues, very early mornings do not work for me. Most of the time, I ended up falling asleep in my chair. When I managed to stay awake, my body suffered from the lack of needed sleep and I became grumpy with my family.)
- Using the evening hours when the kids had early bedtimes – This really did not work for me and I only tried it briefly. If we didn’t have company or evening plans, I would feel the need to use that time to finish everything that didn’t get done while the kids were awake.
Bible study and reading truly are on my list of favorite things to do. I’ve experimented with “when” I do it and changed up “how” I do it countless times. (My next post will address some of the various methods I’ve incorporated for the “how”.) This isn’t a negative thing. It keeps things fresh and interesting for me because I love to learn and enjoy practicing different methods.
Information and resources to enhance our efforts to connect with Christ abound. Books and devotionals and fancy Bibles and journals and pens and video programs and groups to be a part of and blogs and so on. Many of these materials are excellent and helpful. But are they necessary?
The biggest hindrance to my quiet time is myself.
We are privileged to live in a country where freedom of religion allows us to have a Bible (and let’s be honest, many of us have more than one) and to read and study it anywhere and any time. We can freely meet with others to talk about Jesus Christ and grow in our faith.
Jesus is present with me at all times. He is ready to listen to me and desires that I would know Him. He has promised to give me wisdom if I seek it. He couldn’t be closer, more available, or easier to find. He’s willing and able to meet me at any time of day or night, in the midst of chaos and noise or in the silent darkness of a midnight moment. His Word to me is accessible in any room of my house and even anywhere I go (thanks to today’s technology and Bible apps on smartphones). He requires no specific criteria before I can talk to Him.
So what prevents me from taking advantage of His presence, His availability, His wisdom, His Word, His love?
- “I don’t have time”: If my schedule is too busy for the One who sustains me and gives me each breath, there’s too much on my plate and something needs to go.
- “My family demands too much of me”: My children need to know Jesus, too. No matter who needs me and how much they need me, I can only do so much on my own before I fall apart. I need the sustaining power of Jesus at work in my life to keep me serving others faithfully.
- “Mornings/Evenings don’t work for me”: Any time is better than no time.
Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a guilt trip!
If my quiet time is accomplishing little more than checking boxes and filling notebooks, I’m missing the point.
The point is that we need Jesus and there’s nothing stopping us from having Him.
We need His Spirit at work in our lives. We need His Word to teach us and minister to us. We need to lay our burdens at His feet because they’re too much for us to bear alone.
He couldn’t have made it simpler or more accessible – regardless of what our lives look like.
We mistakenly think it has to look a certain way or take a certain length of time or use certain materials.
Are we looking for an ideal rather than looking for Jesus?
Are we looking at what we don’t have rather than Who we DO have?
This post was inspired by My Not-So-Perfect Quiet Time at Well-Watered Women.